Dennis Kucinich on Welfare & Poverty
Democratic Representative (OH-10)
Address poverty with full employment economy & social reform
Q: We live in a country today where Latino and Black household wealth--not income, but accumulated household wealth--is about 10% for the average black and brown family of what it is for the average white family.
How did we get here and how do we get out of it?
A: In Cleveland we face a situation where there is a massive amount of foreclosures, rising unemployment about around particularly around African American households and some Latinos.
Here is my plan first of all. A full employment economy. A Roosevelt type WPA program that puts everyone who is able to work back to work with a living wage. Second a not for profit health care system. Third, universal pre-kindergarten.
Four, universal college education. So we need to make economic reform the fundamental driving force in this country and a president percentage stands for the principle of a rising tide lifts all boats not trickle down economics.
Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum
, Dec 1, 2007
Funding faith-based initiatives with taxes is problematic
In 2003, Kucinich said he believes that funding faith-based initiatives with tax dollars can be problematic and that the strings attached to federal funds awarded to religious groups could encroach on the freedom of religion. Instead, he said, he sees
peace, health care, education and other matters of social welfare as “faith-based initiatives.” Rather than giving money to religious groups, “the work of government ought to be advancing spiritual principles in our everyday life,” he said.
Source: The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
, Oct 25, 2007
Separate state from church, not from spiritual values
Q: Do you believe that, through the power of prayer, disasters like Hurricane Katrina could have been prevented?
A: I come from a spiritual insight which says that we have to have faith but also have good works. The founders meant to have separation of
church & state, but they never meant America to be separate from spiritual values. I’ll bring strong spiritual values to the White House, and I’ll bring values that value peace, social & economic justice, values that remember where I came from.
Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week”
, Aug 19, 2007
Public sector has moral responsibility to provide jobs
Where the private sector fails to provide jobs, the public sector has a moral responsibility to do so. There ought to be work for those who are able to work and who want to work.
Our industrial base is understood to be vital to our national economic welfare. America needs a great new public works program to restore the dream of a full employment economy.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues”
, Aug 1, 2003
Education is only solution to alleviate poverty
Congress should strive to reduce poverty as its goal. Education is the only solution proven to reduce poverty levels. Encourage people to get career training or work toward a college degree, GED, other degree or learn English.
A college degree translates to a living wage job that allows people to live self-sufficiently and move from welfare programs for good.
Source: 2004 House campaign website, Kucinich.us, “On The Issues”
, Aug 1, 2003
Work not welfare for those able to work
Q: What principles do you support regarding the US welfare system?
A: Provide work not welfare for those able to work.
Source: 1996 Congressional National Political Awareness Test
, Jul 2, 1996
Voted YES on instituting National Service as a new social invention.
Congressional Summary:Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act:
Adds to National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA) purposes:
- providing year-round opportunities in service-learning;
- involving program participants in emergency and disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery;
- increasing service opportunities for retiring professionals;
- encouraging service by individuals age 55 or older and continued service by national service alumni;
- focusing national service on the areas of national need.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D, MD): [In developing national service over many years] we were not in the business of creating another new social program. What we were in the business of was creating a new social invention. What do I mean by that? In our country, we are known for our technological inventions. But also often overlooked, and sometimes undervalued, is our social inventions.
We created national service to let young people find opportunity to be of service and also to make an important contribution. But not all was rosy. In 2003, when I was the ranking member on the appropriations subcommittee funding national service, they created a debacle. One of their most colossal errors was that they enrolled over 20,000 volunteers and could not afford to pay for it. That is how sloppy they were in their accounting. I called them the "Enron of nonprofits."
And they worked on it. But all that is history. We are going to expand AmeriCorps activity into specialized corps. One, an education corps; another, a health futures corps; another, a veterans corps; and another called opportunity corps. These are not outside of AmeriCorps. They will be subsets because we find this is where compelling human need is and at the same time offers great opportunity for volunteers to do it.
Opponent's argument to vote No:No senators spoke against the amendment.
Reference: Serve America Act/GIVE Act;
Bill H.R. 1388
; vote number 2009-H169
on Mar 31, 2009
Voted YES on providing $70 million for Section 8 Housing vouchers.
Voting YES on this amendment would add $70 million to the Section 8 housing voucher program, funding an additional 10,000 affordable housing vouchers.
Proponents of the amendment say:
- This amendment would enable an additional 10,000 low-income families to afford safe, decent housing.
- To offset this increase, the amendment cuts a poorly managed computer upgrade program. The committee has been very ingenious in squirreling away money in different accounts and the bill would still provide $94 million in funds for IT projects.
- We have a choice: Do we want to help thousands of families obtain affordable housing, or do we think it is more important to have a somewhat faster computer upgrade in HUD?
- Our amendment does not seek to restore the amount to the amount that the President recommended, which is $144 million more than the committee recommends, it seeks merely to restore $70 million, or about half of what the difference is to what the President recommended.
- This is less than the bare
minimum of what is needed. We have hundreds of thousands of families on waiting lists, waiting up to 10 years for decent housing for Section 8 vouchers.
Reference: Department of Housing and Urban Development appropriations;
Bill HR 5576 Amendment 1015
; vote number 2006-267
on Jun 13, 2006
- The existing bill fully funds the renewal of Section 8 vouchers. Additional funds are simply not necessary.
- The cost of Section 8 vouchers are remaining constant and in some markets are actually decreasing. As such, this funding level will provide funds to restore vouchers that may have been lost in recent years.
- The proposed reduction will cause delays in critically needed efforts to modernize antiquated legacy computer systems.
Voted NO on promoting work and marriage among TANF recipients.
Welfare Reauthorization Bill: Vote to pass a bill that would approve $16.5 billion to renew the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant program through fiscal 2008 and call for new welfare aid conditions. The bill raises the work requirements for individuals getting assistance from 30 to 40 hours per week. States would be required to increase the number of recipient families working from the current level of 50 percent to 70 percent or more in 2008. The bill also provides an additional $1 billion in mandatory state child care grants and provides $200 million annually for marriage promotion programs.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Pryce, R-OH;
Bill HR 4
; vote number 2003-30
on Feb 13, 2003
Voted NO on treating religious organizations equally for tax breaks.
Vote to pass a bill that would allow religious organizations to compete equally with other non-governmental groups for federal funds to provide social service, and provide $13.3 billion in tax breaks for charitable giving over 10 years.
Bill HR 7
; vote number 2001-254
on Jul 19, 2001
Voted YES on responsible fatherhood via faith-based organizations.
Vote to establish a program that would promote more responsible fatherhood by creating educational, economic and employment opportunities and give grants to state agencies and nonprofit groups, including faith-based institutions.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Johnson, R-CT.;
Bill HR 3073
; vote number 1999-586
on Nov 10, 1999
Support school breakfast for low-income children.
Kucinich signed bill favoring school breakfast for low-income kids
A resolutix`on expressing the sense of the Senate that providing breakfast in schools through the national school breakfast program has a positive impact on the lives and classroom performance of low-income children.
- Recognizes the positive effect the National School Breakfast Program has had on children's classroom performance and the lives of low-income children and families.
- Expresses strong support for states that have successfully implemented school breakfast programs and encourages all states to improve their programs.
Source: SR67&HRes210 2009-SR67 on Mar 5, 2009
- the importance of providing states with resources to improve the availability of adequate and nutritious breakfasts;
- the role nonprofit and community organizations play in increasing awareness of, and access to, breakfast programs for low-income children; and
- hat National School Breakfast Week helps draw attention to the need for, and success of, the National School Breakfast Program.
Reduce the concentration of wealth & wage inequality.
Kucinich adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:
Economic inequality is the result of two and a half decades of government policies and rules governing the economy being tilted in favor of large asset owners at the expense of wage earners. Tax policy, trade policy, monetary policy, government regulations and other rules have reflected this pro-investor bias. We propose the introduction or reintroduction of a package of legislative initiatives that will close America’s economic divide and address both income and wealth disparities.
The Progressive Caucus could take the lead in the formation of a national leadership steering committee to put this dramatic issue before the public through coordinated media campaigns and local education and action forums. The political program should be concerned with: After a decade of economic prosperity, the moral question remains: if we can’t address the persistent economic divide in our nation today, when can we?
Source: CPC Position Paper: Income Inequality 99-CPC3 on Nov 11, 1999
- Reducing wage inequality: We are proposing initiatives to both raise the minimum wage floor and prevent the tax code from subsidizing excessive compensation.
- Asset-building initiatives:
The government has historically given land to citizens. Unfortunately, the programs were discriminatory toward people of color and kept a whole generation of people off the asset-building train. We are proposing a universal asset building approach that will dramatically reduce the number of “asset less” households and reduce the disparity of wealth for all Americans.
- Addressing the over concentration of wealth and power: The concentration of wealth is a problem because it distorts our democracy, destabilizes the economy and erodes our at our social and cultural fabric. Too much concentrated wealth leads to too much concentrated power and begins to undermine our participatory democracy.
Page last updated: Jun 16, 2018